Monday, September 08, 2014
Today we celebrate the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a day that should be meaningful for every Christian for whom Mary, the Mother of God, is also a mother.

At the Angelus yesterday, Pope Francis reminded us that today will be the liturgical feast of the Nativity of Mary. It means it would be her birthday. And what do we do when it is our mother's birthday? We greet her and offer her our best wishes. Tomorrow remember, in the early morning, to greet the Virgin from your heart, and say to her, 'Best wishes!' And say a Hail Mary from your heart, as a son or a daughter.

When I was a member of the Holy See delegation to the UN conference on Women in Beijing in September 1995, I was struck by a visit from a representative of the Iranian delegation who came to our office on September 8 to give us a beautiful poster of Mary to celebrate her birthday. Iranians are almost entirely Shia Muslims and Muslims have a special place in their hearts for Mary as she is the Mother of the famous prophet (for them) Jesus.

Archbishop Renato Martino, adjunct head of delegation, put the poster up on the wall for a few days, and I believe he has it to this day! Ill have to ask now Cardinal Martino the next time I see him!


On what could be called a perfect day weather-wise, St. Peters Square Sunday was packed to overflowing with pilgrims coming from near and far, anxious to hear the Popes words at the traditional noon Angelus. The theme of the papal reflections, inspired by the days Gospel, was that of fraternal correction as presented by St. Matthew.

The Pope said, Jesus teaches us that if my Christian brother wrongs me or offends me, I must be charitable towards him and, first of all, speak to him personally, explaining that what he has said or done is not good. And what if my brother does not listen to me? asks Francis. Jesus suggests a way of intervening gradually: first, to speak to him again with another two or three people, so that he is more aware of the mistake he has made. If, in spite of this, he does not accept this exhortation, it is necessary to tell the community, and if he does not even listen to the community, then we have to let him know of the fracture and detachment that he himself has caused, by failing in communion with his brothers and sisters in the faith.

The steps in this itinerary show the strength that the Lord asks of the community to support those who err, so that they are not lost. Above all it is necessary to avoid the clamor of news and gossip in the community.

The Holy Father underscored that the attitude must be one of gentleness, prudence, humility and care in relation to those who have erred, avoiding words that may harm or kill our brother. Because even words can kill! When I gossip or when I unjustly criticize, when I curse a brother with my tongue, this means destroying the reputation of the other person. At the same time, this discretion in speaking to him alone has the aim of not pointlessly mortifying the sinner.!

In view of this need, we can understand the following series of interventions, which include the involvement of other witnesses and finally even the community. The aim is to help the person to understand what they have done, and to be aware that they have thereby offended not just one person, but everyone. But it also helps us to rid ourselves of anger and resentment that bitterness of the heart that leads to anger and resentment leads us to insult and offend. It is very unpleasant to see insults and aggression from a Christian. To insult is not Christian.

After the Angelus, Pope Francis noted that, In the last few days, there have been significant steps in the search for a truce in the regions affected by the conflict in eastern Ukraine. I hope that they can bring relief to the population and contribute to the efforts for a lasting peace. I pray that, in the logic of the meeting, the dialogue that has started will continue to bear the fruit that is hoped.

Continuing, he said: Also I add my voice to that of the Bishops of Lesotho, who appealed for peace in that country. I condemn all acts of violence and pray to the Lord that the Kingdom of Lesotho will restore peace and justice in fraternity."

Following greetings to various groups present, Francis concluded by asking all present to please pray for me. I wish you a good Sunday and a good lunch. Goodbye!!


Following yet another act of violence against Religious, Pope Francis sent two telegrams of condolences for the violent deaths of three Xaverian missionary sisters in Burundi. The nuns - Sister Bernadetta Bogiann, Sister Lucia Pulici and Sister Olga Raschietti - were in the pastoral service to the parish of Saint Guido Maria Conforti in Bujumbura. Signed by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, the first telegram was addressed to Archbishop Evariste Ngoyagoye of Bujumbura, Burundi, amd the second to Sister Ines Frizza, Superior General of the Xaverian Missionary Sisters of Mary.

The Superior of the Xaverians in the northern suburb of the capital, Bujumbura, Fr. Mario Pulcini, says the murders appeared to be the tragic outcome of an armed robbery or a vendetta and that nothing can justify the killing.

In his message to Archbishop Evariste Ngoyagoye of Bujumbura, Burundi, Pope Francis begged the Lord to welcome into His kingdom of peace and light these three faithful and devout nuns and expressed his closeness to their religious community, to the families of the victims, and the entire diocesan community.

To Sister Ines Frizza, the papal telegram said: Deeply saddened by the tragic death of the Xaverian Missionary Sisters killed in Burundi, the Holy Father wishes to assure his heartfelt participation in the profound suffering of the Congregation for the loss of such dedicated sisters and, in the hope that the blood they have shed may become the seed of hope to build true fraternity between peoples, raises fervent prayers for the eternal repose of their souls and for their generous witness of the Gospel.


According to the Italian daily La Stampa, As of January 2015, stores and third parties will no longer be allowed to sell the much-requested parchments known as papal blessings. After that date, the only authorized places to obtain a blessing will be the Vaticans own Office of Papal Charities known as the eleemosynary cloistered monasteries and apostolic nunciatures throughout the world.

Stores around the Vatican have been making a lot of money from the sale of papal blessings, often charging more than the Vatican itself. All proceeds from the sales of papal parchments typically granted for Baptism, First Communion, Confirmation, weddings, priestly ordination, Religious profession, secular consecration and ordinations of permanent deacons are earmarked for papal charities, and that has not always been the case with stores who have profited from the sales.

The stores are set to protest the decision, a decision made by Pope Francis and communicated through his Papal Almoner, Bishop Konrad Krajewski. According to La Stampa, Bishop Krajewski, head of the Office of Papal Charities, sent a letter on April 12 to signatories of the convention on apostolic blessing certificates that, as of January 2015 they may no longer sell the papal blessings. This is a process that actually began during the papacy of Benedict XVI.

When in Rome, pilgrims can personally order the parchment scrolls by visiting the Office of Papal Charities in Vatican City. Simply go to the SantaAnna entrance to the Vatican (about 100 feet from the right-hand colonnade) and ask the Swiss Guard for directions. The Eleemosynary is open Monday through Saturday from 9am to 12:30 pm).

One can also order online (this possibility has been around for some time!). Go to this site for all the info you will possibly want:

Ordering a papal blessing from the official eleemosynary is a guarantee that the proceeds will indeed go to papal charities. La Stampa, in an historical note, says, It was in the Holy Year (1950) that the Vatican really started to task people or institutions, like shops and libraries, to make it possible for the ever-growing number of pilgrims coming to Rome to receive a blessing. But sixty years ago there was no Internet and the small Vatican office was having difficulty physically dealing with all the requests that came through. Now, all it takes is a few clicks to order a scroll and have it posted to you, whichever part of the world you are in.

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